Olympic gold dressage stallion Uthopia goes to auction to clear debt
A former Olympic champion horse is to be sold at public auction in Northern Ireland.
Uthopia, which was ridden by Carl Hester to gold medal glory at London 2012, will go to the highest bidder as part of an unreserved prestige auction next month.
Wilsons Auctions said the sale was part of bankruptcy proceedings.
Auctioneer Aidan Larkin said there had been a huge interest in the four-legged lot.
"Within the first hour we have had enquiries from France, Holland, Spain and England," he said.
"There really is a global interest in this horse."
The 15-year-old dark bay stallion, estimated to be worth millions of pounds, had been the subject of a lengthy legal wranglings over ownership which have now come to an end.
The Dutch-bred dressage ace was discovered as a four-year-old by Mr Hester and went on to win five Championship medals including Olympic Team Gold in 2012, as well as two individual silvers at the 2011 European Championships.
In a statement released through British Dressage, Carl Hester, who was not the subject of the bankruptcy proceedings, said he hoped to find financial backers to help buy the horse.
He said: "It's been a distressing experience for us all and with a very unhappy end. 'Uti' has been part of the family for 11 years and is a yard favourite. Quite simply, I'm appalled that it's come down to this.
"I'm already working hard to find backers to help me buy him and give him the very best care in retirement he deserves. I owe him so much and my immediate concern is for the horse's welfare. I just want him home to spend the rest of his days at our yard, cared for by those who adore him."
Uthopia will be sold at Wilsons Auctions on May 27.
In a statement they said: "Uthopia will reside at his current stable yard and be cared for by the same people throughout this process.
"It is of course possible that he may continue to reside at his current stable yard after the sale has concluded, dependant of course on the identity and intentions of the purchaser.
"We welcome bids from any interested party and it is our wish that the eventual purchaser enjoys owning the horse for many years to come."